TORONTO — Sonny Gray is a mess.
And the most pertinent question facing the Yankees now is the best course of action for getting him back on track, which continues to become more and more difficult to envision.
Friday night brought another train wreck of an outing, one devoid of encouragement. Gray lasted only two innings and allowed five runs in a 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
“Another poor performance,” Gray said after his shortest outing of the season.
Aaron Boone, while saying he is “concerned” with Gray, said the righthander (5-7, 5.85) will make his next scheduled start Wednesday night in Baltimore. “We also believe in the stuff and as best we can, we have to help him right the ship,” Boone said. “I think he can right it in the rotation . . . Part of it is right now we feel like he’s our best option.”
Which doesn’t mean Gray’s rotation spot is a lifetime appointment. “We certainly have to start to see [better results],” Boone said.
The loss dropped the Yankees (56-29) two games behind the Red Sox (60-29).
Gray excoriated himself after his previous outing last Saturday against Boston, when he was booed off the mound at the Stadium after allowing six runs in 2 1⁄3 innings in an 11-0 loss. “If I was out there,’’ he said of the fans, “I probably would have booed me harder.”
Gray, who has allowed at least four earned runs in eight of 17 starts, acknowledged lacking answers at the moment. “I’m frustrated, but at the same time, I have to come up with some solution if I want to continue to go out there and compete,” he said. “There’s been way too many games like this. It’s not early in the season anymore. This is when you’re expected to go out there and contribute and get in some type of rhythm and go out and put together solid starts back to back, and I haven’t even been close to being able to do that.”
All five runs off Gray Friday came in the second inning. The highlight for the Blue Jays (41-46) was Justin Smoak’s three-run homer on a hanging slider, a two-out shot that made it 5-0.
Righthander David Hale pitched very well in relief, throwing five scoreless innings before allowing a run in the eighth.
Aaron Hicks hit his 16th homer (ninth in his last 16 games) and had two RBIs for the Yankees, who couldn’t take advantage of a chance to get back in the game in the fifth. With one out and a run already in on a bases-loaded walk to Hicks issued by starter Sam Gaviglio, Giancarlo Stanton got ahead of Joe Biagini 3-and-0. Then he swung at two pitches that appeared to be out of the strike zone — a low fastball and a high fastball — before taking a called third strike. Didi Gregorius lined out to leftfield to end the inning.
“Got a 3-0 pitch that he tipped and then they made a couple pitches on him,” Boone said of Stanton’s at-bat. “That’s going to happen. Again, we want to continue to create traffic. The more we can do that, the more we’re going to score, the more we’re going to win. We just didn’t get that hit that put us over tonight.”
The Yankees brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth after Miguel Andujar singled with two outs and Greg Bird walked, but Austin Romine took a called third strike from John Axford. The Yankees went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
Still, this night was primarily about Gray and his lack of answers. “We have to figure this thing out,” Romine said. “It’s a weird thing. He has a lot of movement on his pitches and he knows how to pitch. We have to take a step back and try and figure out how we can get this train running in the right direction.”